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Day: June 2, 2017

Sugar high

Keizer cake-maker bakes up sweet smiles

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Given enough fondant and a few days of toil, Tresha Capps can turn your next party cake into just about anything you want.

She knows fondant isn’t everyone’s cup-o-tea, but she’s hoping to make converts out of her Pink Princess Cakes clients.

“Store-bought fondant can be a little weird, but I made everything from scratch. The fondant I use is make of marshmallows and powdered sugar so it tastes a lot better,” Capps said.

Capps, who lives with her family in south Keizer, started her home-based business eight years ago, but it’s growing by leaps and bounds lately.

Tresha Capps has been making specialty cakes, cookies and other treats out of her home for the past eight years and is setting her sights higher now. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

“I’m almost completely booked through the summer. It just really seemed to take off at the beginning of the year,” she said.

Capps specializes in cakes and cookies with healthy dose of imagination. A quick scroll through her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PinkPrincessCakes) reveal items like geode cakes, edible graduation leis, Minecraft cookies, Star Wars-themed cakes and cookies, and just about anything else clients have tossed out as inspiration. Most of them are outright stunning.

“I really like working with clients to make a plan,” Capps said. “I sat down with one client a few days ago and we came up with ideas for a Moana cake.” Moana is the latest in Disney’s line of animated princesses.

Prices vary depending on the type of treat and the amount of work it will take to produce. Capps also needs time once an order is placed.

“I usually need at least a week. Everything is made from scratch and the cakes and fondants need a couple of days to harden,” she said. “Even cookies take a couple of days and then they need to set for 24 hours before they are packaged.”

She recommends ordering at least a week before the items are needed and two weeks is preferable.

Capps got her start in cooking and baking at North Salem High School where she captained a group of culinary students that took second place in the state. After starting a family and a stint in nursing, the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom was one she couldn’t pass up. She took a cake class at JoAnn’s and it reignited her passion.

“I made a few cakes for classes and my husband would take pictures of them and show them around to his co-workers. I started taking orders through him and he literally put me into business,” Capps said.

She considers herself a “YouTube graduate” after honing her skills and picking up new tricks and ideas through watching instructional videos on the internet. She’s recently started trying her hand at sculpted cakes as a result of crowdsourced tips.

“The strangest thing I’ve done was a cake shaped like a toilet,” she said. “Learning which shapes to bake and then decorating them so they don’t fall apart is always tricky.”

Fondant, she said, is Play-Doh for adults because it offers versatility and a shelf-life well beyond what frosting can offer. There are challenges, however. Recently, a number of orders have come in for Minecraft-themed treats and she has to charge more for those. Minecraft is a popular video game with a pixelated look to all the characters, items and scenery.

“Every one of those little blocks needs to be cut out and put together,” she said.

She said her husband, Rob, and her mother remain her toughest critics and fiercest supporters through thick and thin.

Capps said she isn’t certain where the future will take her, but she envisions a bistro or bakery, and is leaning toward the bakery.

“None of the local bakeries offer cookies and I would like to make that a focus,” she said.

To place an order or find out more about available options – including full party set-ups with cookies, cupcakes, cake pops and a two-tiered cake – contact Capps through her Facebook page or call or text 503-400-8187.

Lady Celts fall in quarters

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

OREGON CITY—There wasn’t a dry eye, including coaches, as the McNary softball team gathered in the outfield here after a 7-4 loss in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs on Friday, May 26.

“They love each other,” an emotional head coach Kevin Wise said. “It’s just a great group of girls. They kind of become like sisters. I think when you’re family, you fight for each other. That’s what they did.

“It’s a tough one.”

The Lady Celts led for most of the game, jumping on No. 1 Oregon City and University of Oregon-bound pitcher Morgan Hornback for a run in the first inning as Haley Ebner singled and then scored on a double by Hannah Carr.

The Pioneers tied the contest at 1-1 in the bottom of the third, drawing a walk and then laying down back-to-back bunt singles off Faith Danner, who didn’t allow a ball out of the infield until there were two outs in the fourth.

McNary broke the contest open in the top of the fifth.

After Sabella Alfaro doubled, Ebner brought her home with a two-out single to right field.

Taking advantage of an error, Ebner and Nadia Witt then scored on a ground ball by Carr that went through the shortstop’s legs and rolled all the way to the fence to give the Lady Celts a 4-1 lead.

Danner retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the fifth before the game began to slip away from McNary. A walk and RBI double got Oregon City within 4-2.

After hitting a batter, Danner got a fly ball to right field. However, a charging Alexa Cepeda couldn’t make the catch and two more runners scored, tying the game at 4-4.

Danner then got a ground ball back to the pitcher but she couldn’t field it cleanly and the runner beat the throw to first. The Pioneers then added a RBI single to take a 5-4 lead.

“Defensively, we kind of knew they (Oregon City) were a little weak and they made some errors,” Wise said. “But unfortunately we did, too.”

Haley Bingenheimer reached on another Oregon City error in the top of the sixth but didn’t get any farther than first base.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Pioneers scored two more runs on a triple.

With one out in the seventh, Cepeda singled to give McNary hope. However, Ebner struck out swinging and Cepeda was then picked off first base to end the game.

Hornback, who had 25 strikeouts through the first two rounds of the playoffs, added eight more against McNary.

The Lady Celts were able to record six hits.

Ebner was 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI. Witt, Cepeda, Carr and Alfaro each had a hit as well.

Wise said he received a scouting report regarding Hornback from West Salem head coach Ty Nicholson. The Titans played her in the second round of the playoffs. Several Lady Celts had also hit against Hornback during summer ball.

“The thing about this team is they’re not afraid of anybody, no matter who they’re facing,” Wise said.

“So we worked really hard on a game plan. We knew what she was going to try to do. She was going to get us to try to chase the rise. We had a good game plan and they executed it.”

Danner also allowed six hits and only three earned runs.

“Faith has done awesome for us all year,” Wise said.

“She obviously doesn’t throw as hard as the girl they have but Faith moves the ball around, she hits her spots. I’d take Faith any day. Faith is the same kind of kid, nothing really rattles her. We kind of figured out what their hitters were going to do and we tried to work that and she did a great job with it.”

New fence to keep out bad neighbors

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

As a new fence went up around the Rickman Community Garden Saturday, May 27, Peggy Moore wanted to kiss every post and hug each of the five volunteers who made it possible.

“We needed this so bad. Whenever we’ve talked to the other gardeners, this was the thing they wanted most,” Peggy said. Peggy and her husband, Jerry, are the garden coordinators.

The garden, which sits west of the Keizer Civic Center in Chalmers Jones Park, makes gardening possible for 17 local families without the space to do one in their own yards. Unfortunately, theft at the garden made the fence a necessity. But the youth hanging out at the nearby skate park weren’t the problem.

“The kids might climb up on the roof of the shed, but we’ve caught a number of neighbors who come into the garden with plastic shopping bags and pick whatever they want. And it’s not just one person, it’s different people over and over,” Peggy said. “We have one family that plants strawberries and hardly got any last year.”

Volunteer Danny Dietz splices together sections of fence. ({KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Moore said she caught one person with two plastic bags of produce and, when she confronted the woman, it turned out she had also taken seedling plants that were intended for the gardeners. On another occasion, the same “dedicated thief” was seen pushing another plastic bag down the back of her pants to avoid a confrontation.

And that wasn’t even the most brazen of the incidents.

“I was working on my bed last year and I was trying a new kind of tomato and they were coming in big and green. A man came by and told me that he just went down to the South and had fried green tomatoes and they were so good. He said he was going to come back and get some of the tomatoes on my plot,” Peggy said.

Peggy told the man that the produce belongs to the gardeners who pay for their spaces and he walked off. When Peggy and Jerry came back to water their plot within the following 48 hours, all the green tomatoes were gone.

That was one of the more frustrating parts about the fence, Jerry said.

“It’s taking a $3,000 fence to keep four or five people out of the garden,” Jerry said.

Most of the spaces in the community garden are taken by low- and fixed-income families, and Peggy said she keeps a waiting list for when plots become available. The new fence will have two gates, one large enough to accommodate a vehicle and a smaller one, with coded locks for gardeners to access when needed.

The garden is truly a community effort, when the plot owners have excess, it is typically donated to Simoka Place. Peggy and Jerry recently built a raised garden bed for a plot owner with mobility issues.

“Now she can just sit on the side of the bed and do her gardening,” Jerry said.

The fence was made possible through a $1,700 matching grant from the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and numerous smaller donations.

“We went to a lot of the smaller family-owned businesses and we got a lot of $10 and $20 donations from a lot of people,” Peggy said.

Rotary Club of Keizer volunteers Mark Caillier, Bob Shackelford, Nathan Bauer, Rich Michael and Danny Dietz pitched in to install the fence.

While looking for financial support, Peggy and Jerry also received a donation of wine barrels from Willamette Valley Vineyards. They plan on turning them into herb gardens.

“We’re always looking for the plants we can take out of the individual plots – like squash that take up a lot of space – and put into community beds,” Peggy said.

Her next project is finding someone with shepherd hooks and hanging flower baskets to put up inside the fence to attract pollinators.

What would I do?

By LYNDON ZAITZ

Most people would like to think of themselves as the type of person who come to the aid of the fellow man, even step into harm’s way, if necessary.

On Friday, May 26, on a MAX train at the Hollywood Transit Center in Portland, three men—strangers to each other— fell victims to their own good intentions. The three men confronted a man who was verbally abusing two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, were killed. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was injured.

These men saw what was happening and stepped in to help the young women against the threats of the man. Did they think about their own safety? Did they know that the raving, long-haired man had a knife? Did they consider the possibility of a weapon? In my mind these three men are real heroes, a word that is thrown around too much.

The three men jumped into action to protect the two young women; they saw something and did something. It would seem to be more than a fair fight, three men against one man. But when the element of a close-at-hand weapon is added to the mix, the balance of an altercation can shift.

Too often people will turn away from such scenes, suspecting it is nothing more than the ravings of a person with mental health issues. “Don’t get involved” are words that too easily become the default position.

In the world in which we now live, it will be harder for most people to not get involved when another person is in distress or under attack. There is safety in numbers. The outcome of a  one-on-one fight against the perpetrator of evil can go either way. When a group of people band together to stop harassment, assault or threats, the good guys win.

It does not have to be a life-or-death situation for people to do what is right. The time to think someone else’s suffering is not our problem is long gone. You can say that Oregon isn’t faced with the kind of terrorism other places in the world face, but there is no other name for what happened on that MAX train. A terrorist doesn’t have to be from a certain part of the globe or practice a certain religion. Society  suffers from terrorism every day, whether it is a schoolchild that is mercilessly bullied in person and via a social website, or, a woman (or a man) who is the victim of domestic violence that can happen at any time.

It is unwise for a lone person to inject themselves into a dangerous situation. Yet, we should solicit assistance from bystanders when someone else is in trouble.

We hope that the tragic events of last week in Portland is an isolated incident, but we can’t be sure, so we must always be alert to danger around us, especially when the most vulernable in our society is its victim.

I would like to think I am the kind of person who will step forward to protect someone. After the MAX train stabbings I’ll be more aware of my surroundings and not be afraid to take a call for the help of a stranger. When we band together to help, we are no longer strangers but brothers and sisters in a civilized society.

(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)

Trump flexes U.S. muscle

By DEBRA J. SAUNDERS

President Donald Trump may find Washington a hostile home lurking with political foes who want payback for his harsh rhetoric on the campaign trail. Funny thing, though: On his first foreign trip as president, the one-time isolationist found forgiveness and bonhomie from leaders and nations he trolled during the 2016 campaign.

In Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud Salman rolled out a red carpet for Trump and hosted meetings with Muslim and Arab leaders. In Israel, Trump had positive talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The Vatican described Trump’s audience with Pope Francis as “cordial.”

He accused the Saudis of blowing up the World Trade Center. He supported a “total and complete shutdown” on allowing Muslims to enter the United States. Abbas and the Saudi royal family are Muslims. As a candidate, Trump tweeted that the pontiff was “disgraceful” for questioning his faith.

In Washington, there’s no getting over 2016. Democrats in Congress are loath to appear publicly with Trump. Party leaders don’t want to be seen working with his administration. After spending the last eight years denouncing Republican obstructionism, they’ve come up with a new word— “resistance”—for the same behavior, which they now find laudable.

They’re can’t and won’t get over 2016, while the Saudi King, Palestinian leader and Catholic Pope can.

Then again, Saudi Arabia and Israel were pretty peeved at President Barack Obama’s role in passing the nuclear deal with Iran. Middle Eastern leaders did not appreciate Barack Obama’s role in easing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak out of power. They appreciate that Trump’s “America First” rhetoric means not pushing Middle Eastern leaders to the breaking point.

As Trump put it when he spoke to Arab and Muslim leaders in Riyadh, “We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership—based on shared interests and values—to pursue a better future for us all.”

The pope had the least to lose from taking on Trump and the least to win from reaching out to the president. The pontiff sees immigration as a moral issue, and he was not afraid to say so last year.

“I honestly don’t think Francis gives a hoot about the benefit” of a visit, observed Austin Ruse, Catholic author and president of C-Fam, a family research institute, as well as a member of Trump’s council of Catholic advisers.

At a dedication for a memorial of 9/11 and NATO’s Article 5, which guarantees mutual defense, Trump hectored member nations for failing to contribute their “fair share” of NATO’s defense. That lecture at least could not be considered a surprise.

Yet then, after fanning expectations that he would endorse Article 5 explicitly, Trump failed to do so. For some reason, Trump chose to treat NATO like a freeloader, even though the alliance is sending NATO troops to Iraq and likely will increase troop levels in Afghanistan.

It is instructive to consider the reaction of NATO leaders. They didn’t return his criticism with cute sound bites like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

After the mini-summit, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Trump “strongly stated his commitment” to NATO and “it’s not possible to be committed to NATO without being committed to Article 5.”

That week, national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters that “of course” Trump supports the key NATO provision, for what that is worth.

The takeaway from Trump ‘s trip is that America is the superpower. With Obama and his magical thinking gone, and a president willing to flex some muscle in his place, Europe is responding.

Trump’s refusal to join the rest of the G7 on climate change Saturday was met with willingness to keep trying to bring him on board.

Before the trip, foreign-policy graybeard Robert Gates, secretary of defense under President George W. Bush and Obama, said on “Face the Nation” that American foreign policy needs “disruption.” As Trump arrives back in his home in Washington, he can tell his critics the world agrees.

(Creators Syndicate)

A wealthy nation’s health problem

By GENE H. McINTYRE

There are 435 representatives in the U.S. House, each representing close to 733,000 of their fellow Americans. This number is derived from the U.S. population number of 318.9 million by the 2010 census.  The roles and duties of each member of Congress are understood to include representation, legislation, and constituent service and education as well as political and electoral activities. This writer expects his representative and all the others to come to grips with the dimensions of their role by developing a lawful approach to their tasks, demonstrating fidelity to those who send them.

What’s happened most recently in the U.S. House of Representatives, however, does not embrace the expected standard.  Take the example of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin.  He was gleeful the other day with the GOP health plan because it’s “us keeping our promises.” Yet, his statement is only partially true as, while he and his fellow Republicans did pass a regressive health care bill, one has to question how well he’s representing his constituents since it’s anticipated that at least 23 million Americans will find it financially impossible to afford the premiums, expected to rise by 850 percent.

Then, too, Ryan, Trump and a majority of GOP representatives now find themselves in an awkward place.  They made all kinds of specific guarantees tied to their health care legislation and then proceeded to break most of them without explanation which could and should make their back-home visits before and during 2018 campaign successes no walk in the public park. Here’s a condensed overview of what they’ve done: first, made promises; second, broke promises; and third, hide the fact they made the promises in the first place.  Sadly, Oregon’s 2nd District representative, Greg Walden, gleefully joined that GOP chorus.

In each representative’s case, there are Americans from every level of the economic ladder, most poor to most wealthy.  Without help from the federal government in the form of Medicaid and other federal assistance programs, millions of these people cannot afford health insurance and will only seek medical help, if it’s available at all within accessible distance, from emergency care.

What gets to this writer the most is that we are a comparatively wealthy nation that could take much better care of all our people than we do and that an inordinate amount of everything goes to a small percentage of the population seldom needing more than what they’ve already got: This being most disgusting in the fact that while the U.S. House-passed bill makes deep cuts to the needy, the bill coincidentally provides millions of dollars in tax relief to the wealthy.  The Republican members of the U.S. House thereby defeat the principles of democracy by serving the few and sending the country evermore close to times and circumstances of the late 1800s, when only the wealthy could afford the American Dream—and medical attention when needed.

Meanwhile, the 100-member U.S. Senate has a mere handful Republican senators, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell working on their version of TrumpCare. The cynic here does not see promise for a Senate bill that serves all Americans when the supporters are 16 highly conservative, older, white men (with no female senators included) who have a reputation for putting GOP ideology and big-money contributors before nation and citizens.  Hence, from the U.S. Senate a bill is believed on its way that will be without provisions for the nation’s middle class and poor.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)

Don’t best against tax and health reform

By LAWRENCE KUDLOW

If the smart money folks on Wall Street think a special counsel to oversee the Russian probes spells defeat for business tax cuts, they’re leaning well over their skis.

While there’s never 100 percent probability in forecasting political risk, it seems the likelihood of health care reform by the summer and tax reform by year’s end (or early 2018) is quite high.

Paradoxically, special counsel Robert Mueller will provide cover for President Trump, as it will take him many months to complete his investigation. The leaks are going to dry up. By law, information on the probe must be protected. So, whatever the outcome, Trump will have months without the attack headlines in which to sell his tax-cut plan.

And Trump still has the backing of his core base, which is at least 40 percent of the electorate. These disenchanted voters may not agree with everything he says. But they still strongly believe Trump is their best chance to drain the swamp—to overturn the Beltway elites, to deliver border security, to improve trade deals and to cut taxes and regulations to deliver the full-fledged deeply rooted sustainable prosperity we haven’t seen in 20 years.

Warts and all, Trump and his polices is still their vote. (He needs to go out there and rally these folks.)

And all this talk of impeachment based on obstruction of justice is just Democratic political pap. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who is no partisan, calls it “an awfully thin soup.” Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe told Congress there’s been no interference in the FBI’s investigations and no request for additional funding.

And if Comey did write a memo about obstruction of justice, he is legally obligated to report it to the highest levels of the Justice Department. Failure to do so could invoke criminal charges.

Yet behind all this mess, House Speaker Paul Ryan keeps telling people that Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time. He’s right.

And that opens the door for taxes.

House Ways and Means Committee chair Kevin Brady just began expert tax hearings. After the recess, Brady will likely convene a markup session.

Rep. Peter Roskam, who chairs the congressional tax policy subcommittee, said last week, “I’m of the view that 2017 is the year.” He thinks tax reform is easier than replacing Obamacare.

So, following a markup, Ways and Means can report out a bill. And because prosperity is America’s No. 1 issue, it will pass the floor relatively easily. And that will put pressure on the Senate to get moving.

It’s likely that a tax cut working group will again convene to hash out important details. The border-adjusted tax, or BAT, will have to go. But the very core of the tax bill is a simple three steps: a deep corporate tax-rate cut, immediate expensing for new equipment of all kinds and the repatriation of offshore cash. This is the tonic that will restore capital formation, productivity, real wages and growth.

Both Senate and House leaders have to understand how flexible reconciliation is. It can be nearly anything you want it to be. The key player is Senate President Mike Pence, who can overrule the parliamentarian.

Congressional leaders should heed the words of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has become the administration’s leading spokesperson for economic growth and lower tax rates. He told the Senate Banking Committee last week, “What I have said repeatedly is that any plan we put forward we believe should be paid for with economic growth.”

He is estimating a 3 percent growth rate by 2021. I suspect it will arrive faster. And the difference between growth of less than 2 percent from the Congressional Budget Office and 3 percent growth is well over $3 trillion in additional revenue. It’s the mother of all pay-fors.

And lowering marginal tax rates across the board, especially on large and small businesses, will foster the mother of all prosperities — the one for which middle-class Americans in all those red counties that voted for Trump have been yearning.

(Creators Syndicate)